Verizon’s purchase of AOL will include not just AOL’s digital content properties and online advertising business, but also about two million dial-up subscribers.
They are among as many as nine million Americans who still use dial-up for a variety of reasons, including cost and geographic availability of broadband, says Aaron Smith of the Pew Research Center, who looked into dial-up users.
“They’re a little bit older,” Smith says. “42 percent of dial-up users are over the age of 55. They’re also a little bit different in their socio-economic makeup. About half of dial-up users have a high school diploma or less.”
Smith says most dial-up users would switch to broadband if it was cheaper or easier to get. But he says a fifth of dial-up users are happy with the service, and just aren’t interested in broadband.
So should Verizon make an effort to convert dial-up die-hards?
“The best [Verizon] can do is nothing,” says telecom analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics. “There is a segment of the population that just wants to have occasional access to the Internet and only pay 10 dollars for it.”
Entner says everyone who wants to convert to broadband probably already has. Except, he says, in the most remote and rural parts of the U.S., where a copper telephone line and a dial-up modem may still be the best way to get online.